Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Global Competition Seeks Disruptive Innovations in Health and Health Care

Global Competition Seeks Disruptive Innovations in Health and Health Care

A global competition has launched to find disruptive innovations that could dramatically reshape the health and health care marketplace. The online competition, “Disruptive Innovations in Health and Health Care—Solutions People Want,” is hosted by Changemakers in partnership with the Pioneer Portfolio of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). It uses Changemakers’s unique open sourcing social solutions™ competition model.

The “Disruptive Innovations” competition, which runs through July 18, expects to attract global entrepreneurs whose ideas lead to new services, tools, and choices that consumers want. Examples of disruptive innovations that are already transforming health care are home glucose monitors that give diabetics the ability and convenience to get blood glucose readings in seconds in the convenience and comfort of their own homes; and walk-in health clinics in retail stores that enable patients to quickly see skilled nurse practitioners and physician assistants, who diagnose and treat common conditions at lower costs than typical doctor visits.

Approximately twelve competition finalists will be selected by a distinguished panel of judges, including: RWJF Senior Program Officer Nancy Barrand; Margaret Laws, director of the California HealthCare Foundation’s Innovations for the Underserved program; Dr. Jason Hwang, Harvard Business School Fellow, Innosight; and Sonal Shah, Global Economic Development, All finalists will attend a Change Summit to stimulate future collaborations and insights from thought leaders in the field.

Changemakers’s global network of social entrepreneurs will then vote for three winners from anywhere in the world—each of whom will receive a $5,000 cash prize from Changemakers. In addition, RWJF’s Pioneer Portfolio will review competition entries and may award up to $5 million to support projects (restricted to U.S. organizations) that show potential to go to scale.

“We are challenging enterprising thinkers to consider how shifts or changes in the marketplace can help consumers manage their health and health care how they want to, where they want to, when they want to,” said Barrand. “Changemakers’s open-source competition model provides RWJF with a transparent, interactive way to engage a vast network of entrepreneurs in finding solutions that make sense to consumers and respond to what they value.”

This is the second in a series of idea competitions co-sponsored by Changemakers and RWJF. The unique competition model attracts solutions from social entrepreneurs from around the globe. Innovators submit their ideas online and the Changemakers community provides feedback on the problem and proposed solutions throughout the competition. This interactive process is designed not only to catalyze action on important issues but also to connect participants’ solutions with key decision-makers, investors, and health and social service providers.

“Changemakers is about connecting the global change community and providing innovators the collaborative power and velocity to deal with problems in real time," according to Charlie Brown, Changemakers’s executive director. "Our collaborative series of competitions with RWJF promises to forge wider, stronger communities of practice that will take solutions to scale at unprecedented rates."

“Disruptive innovation,” a term coined by Harvard Business Professor Clayton Christensen, describes a technology, process, or business model that enables more consumers in the market to afford and/or have the ability to use a product or service. The change caused by such an innovation is so big that it eventually replaces, or disrupts, the established approach to providing that product or service.

In the health and health care arena, services historically have been designed and delivered with providers’ needs in mind. They also tend to be procedure-oriented, treating patients more as passive recipients than engaged participants in the care process. Recasting patients as consumers puts them in an active role and challenges the system to meet consumers’ interests in managing their health and health care in ways that are more affordable, more accessible, simpler, and more convenient.

The Disruptive Innovations competition is the second in a series of three competitions Changemakers is hosting in partnership with RWJF’s Pioneer Portfolio. All three are designed to source cutting-edge solutions to some of the most pressing health and health care challenges around the world. The first competition on ending domestic violence attracted nearly 250 submissions. The third competition begins in June and looks to stimulate innovations in how computer and video gaming can improve health and health care.

Changemakers is an initiative of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public. Changemakers focuses on the rapidly growing world of social innovation. It provides solutions and resources needed to help everyone become a changemaker and presents compelling stories that explore the fundamental principles of successful social innovation around the world. Changemakers is building the world's first global online "open source" community that competes to surface the best social solutions, and then collaborates to refine, enrich, and implement those solutions. Changemakers begins by providing an overarching intellectual framework for collaborative competitions that bring together individual social change initiatives into a more powerful whole. For details on the competition, visit

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing the United States. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change.

The Foundation’s Pioneer Portfolio supports innovative ideas and projects that may trigger important breakthroughs in health and health care. Projects in the Pioneer Portfolio are typically future-oriented and look beyond conventional thinking to explore solutions at the cutting edge of health and health care.


  1. Dr Aniruddha,

    I commend your support of the disruptive innovations. I hope that you have participated in the voting I am part of the UCLA group ( if you would like to read more)and I am trying to encourage supporters of the concept to participate in the process. Regardless of whether you vote for our proposal or not, I hope you and your readers have gone to view the finalists and placed a vote. I think the process itself represents a disruptive innovation in the grant writing and winning process in health care.

    All the best,

    Eric Rice, PhD

  2. Anonymous5:57 AM

    In the competition, you vote for your top *three* proposals. We hope that one of your top three will be Dr. Sanjeev Arora's "Project ECHO: Knowledge Networks for the Treatment of Complex Diseases in Remote, Rural, Underserved Communities"
    Since 2003, the ECHO team has been successfully empowering primary care givers to co-manage the treatment of complex diseases (such as HCV) in rural underserved communities where such treatment has never been available before. Thank you for your support of this disruptive innovation!


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